The last couple of days, we have all witnessed the amazing story of John Nicola of Optiqueline finishing the world's toughest foot race in the Sahara and fundraising for Optometry Giving Sight. The race, called Marathon des Sables, is a six-day, ultra-marathon equivalent of six regular marathons. This year's total distance was 246.5km. The longest single stage was 81.5 km long. This multi-day race is held every year in southern Morocco, in the Sahara desert. The first event of the Marathon started in 1986. Competitors must carry all personal belongings and food for the entire event in their backpack. Water and tents are supplied by the organizers.
A total of 795 competitors crossed the line of the last stage of the Marathon des Sables 2012. The fact that 59 runners abandoned the course for reason or another, shows just how tough the conditions were this year. Rain, wind, hail, and lightning; baking temps of nearly 50 degrees C and sand storms... they had it all!
Emotions were running high on the final day. As John put it on his facebook page: "The final morning arrived. Our backpacks were emptied out of any unnecessary foods or supplies. I ditched my sleeping mat for the berbers and head out to the start line. 15.5ks didn’t sound like a big distance but the final 9kms were rolling dunes. I took advantage of the flat start and slowly wound my way up and down the dunes. With 3ks to go we caught a glimpse of the finish line. I collected my sample of Saharan sand and then I willed myself to keep pushing to the finish. With the line in sight and wellwishers surrounding the finish line, our desert adventure came to a climactic finish after 247kms. Race organiser Patrick Bauer greeted us all at the finish line, and presented our medals. Five minutes later it hit me emotionally what an amazing week we had. My focus and mental sharpness improved from day to day even though my feet were worse for wear. There were many herculean efforts at this event, none more so than the French bombadiers (firemen) who, on a one wheeled chariot, carried young men with cerebral palsy over every inch of terrain that we covered."
Congratulations John from the team at eyesmart.com.au!
eyesmart.com.au is a national in-kind sponsor of Optometry Giving Sight